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Three Kings Bread

Prep Time:

1h 15 minutes

Cook Time:

25-30 Minutes


6-8 Servings


About the Recipe

Although I did not grow up in a particularly religious household, we still celebrated many traditionally religious holidays. More so for the tradition and family gathering than for the religious symbolism behind it. Three Kings Day, was such a day for us. Also known as Epiphany, it is a Christian holiday celebrated in Switzerland and other countries in Europe and South America on January 6th. It marks the day when the three wise men, also known as the three kings, visited baby Jesus and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. For us, it was a fun day to eat a traditional meal of sweet bread and play a fun game of who would be King (or Queen).

In Switzerland, the holiday is traditionally celebrated by families and friends gathering together for a special meal. Some of the traditional foods that are often served include Roschti, which is a type of grated potato dish, and Basler Leckerli, which are small, rectangular gingerbread-like cookies. Part of our family tradition is to eat a special sweet bread which consists of various round buns forming a flower (or crown) like shape, topped with a sprinkling of pearl sugar with one of the buns hiding a special coin or figurine. The bread is often decorated with a paper crown and whoever is lucky enough to find the small figurine hidden inside their bun is named the king or queen of the day.

I always loved it. Even though the whole excitement only lasted the first few seconds of the meal, as we would all poke our fingers straight through the bun to find out who would be ruler. It was a fun time with wonderful memories and whoever won always had a great sense of pride which would last for days (or even weeks) for being the one who had chosen the correct bun.

I now celebrate Three Kings Day with my kids and so the tradition continues. We all love the bread and sometimes even make it on weekends for brunch. After all, why wait a whole other year to eat something so yummy?!

Whether you want to participate in the celebration, or simply want to try a new recipe. This bread is easy to make and a wonderful addition to any breakfast or brunch or simply as something delicious to snack on.
Let me know if you try it!



500g All-Purpose Flour

100g Granulated Sugar

1 teaspoon Salt

60g Unsalted Butter (softened)

20g Dry Yeast

225ml Milk (warmed)

1 Egg

For Decorating:

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon sugar


Pearl Sugar

Paper Crown

For Hiding:

Small Bakeable Figurine

Coin and Aluminum Foil


This recipe is easy to put together. All you will need is two mixing bowls a lined baking sheet a pastry brush and some patience.

Two bowls of different sizes, one with an egg and yeast mixture, the other with a flour and sugar mixture.
Wet and Dry Ingredients

In one bowl, warm your milk so that it is warm to the touch but not hot. To it, mix in your yeast. I also like to take a big pinch of sugar and mix it in as well. The sugar helps activate the yeast. Mix well and let the yeast mixture sit for a few minutes until it starts to for a bubbly film at the top (15 minutes or so).

In the second bowl, mix together your flour, sugar and salt.

Once the yeast has started activating use a hand mixer to mix in your softened butter and egg. Beat until you have a smooth mixture and everything is well incorporated.

Make a well in the center of your flour mixture (like a volcano) and pour your wet ingredients into the center.

As I always like to do, this is the part of the recipe that might feel a little messy to some, but I find it so satisfying. Use your hands to knead and incorporate everything together until you have formed your dough. To knead, take a portion of the dough and press it down with the heel of your hand to flatten it. Fold the dough in half, and then press it down again with the heel of your hand. Repeat this process for about 10 minutes or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Make sure to scrape any bits from the sides of the bowl so that you have captured all the wet and all the dry ingredients and that they are well blended.

Now cover your bowl with cling wrap or a kitchen towel and let the dough sit for about 45 minutes - 1 hour until it has risen.

White bowl half covered with a cream kitchen towel covering bread dough that has risen.
Dough that has risen.

Flour your work surface. Once the dough has risen, remove the dough from the mixing bowl and divide it into 6 pieces with one portion being slightly bigger than the rest. With the help of a bit of flour roll each piece into a ball roughly the size of a tennis ball.

Prepare your secret treasure that you plan on hiding within one of the buns. I usually use a penny and wrap it in tin foil. However, you can find little bakeable figurines online especially for this purpose. Use your finger to poke a hole halfway through a bun and put the treasure inside. Seal the hole up all the way and make sure to disguise it as best you can so that it is not obvious where the treasure is hidden.

Next, lay out your buns on a lined baking sheet so that they form a flower. One larger ball in the center and the 6 remaining around. It is ok if the balls that frame the sides do not touch one another, they will poof up during the baking process. Cover and let sit for another 30 minutes.

In the meantime preheat your oven to 375F and prepare your egg wash.

To make your egg wash mix together the egg, water and sugar.

When your bread has risen for the second time, use a pastry brush to paint the egg wash onto the surface of your dough. This will give it that nice shiny golden finish. Sprinkle some pearl sugar or raisins on top and pop it in the oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until crust is hard and golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Decorate with a crown and enjoy the fun!

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